For New Affiliates (Or Those Considering Affiliation)


     If you're here, you've probably read the About page already. If not, check that out first. We'll be here when you get back.

 

     If you're a new affiliate, or an artist considering affiliation with MorningStar Records, you've probably got a lot of questions. Below, you'll find a list of the most frequently asked, along with detailed answers for each. If for some reason your question isn't listed, please direct it to contact@morningstarrecords.com and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.

 

     A brief overview of the initial affiliation process; artists contact the label through email or social media, share their music and vision, and the label considers affiliation. Once successfully considered, the artist submits WAVs of all album material to the label, where it is subsequently mastered for CD and/or LP, then slated for release on the label's webstore. While the music is being processed and compiled for release, the artist is asked to provide a two-paragraph biography for their page, which is added to the label's website.


Frequently Asked Questions

 

How was this label founded, and what is its purpose?

 

MorningStar Records was founded in 2023 by its flagship artist Mike Haggith, with a goal of providing independent artists and bands the ability to release their music on CD and vinyl, without the expense of minimum orders, website hosting, and paying for order processing. The purpose of MorningStar Records is to not only help artists sell their music in physical form, but to foster a community of like-minded artists who are able to connect with each other for collaboration, cross-promotion, and focus grouping.

 

 

Why was this label founded, and what is its vision?

 

In a world of contracts which give artists the shaft while businesses retain independent musicians' musical rights, hucksters who promise artists growth if they pay for promotion, and A&R reps who promise fame and fortune if artists turn over their life savings, the need for a different model is more than apparent. MorningStar Records was founded to provide artists a means to sell their music on CD and vinyl without spending thousands of dollars for the privilege, and to fight back against the notion that only those with money can succeed musically. Rather than spending thousands of dollars on CD and LP runs that take months for turnaround, hundreds of dollars and hours building a website and webstore, and countless hours continually updating their site and researching Search Engine Optimization, artists can instead affiliate with MorningStar Records and bypass all of that. Years ago, flagship artist Mike Haggith went through the process of building and optimizing a website and webstore, and found Kunaki, a company which manufactures CDs and LPs on a made-to-order basis. Streamlining all of this, he discovered that he could easily take his knowledge and site template and create a second website dedicated to platforming other artists, thus saving them copious amounts of time and money. This second site became MorningStar Records. The vision of MorningStar Records is to spark change in the music industry, finally leading labels to put their artists first, rather than exploiting creators for all they can. We'll accomplish this by simply leading by example.

 

 

If affiliation costs nothing, how does the label stay afloat?

 

In all honesty, the current form of MorningStar Records doesn't make money. It's subsidized by flagship artist Mike Haggith's music and aviation careers, and likely won't make money for quite a while. The label is set up in such a way that its monthly overhead typically doesn't exceed $40 or $50, which is at least partially offset by the small sales commission the label retains from every sale. Ideally, the artist roster grows enough that sales numbers reach a point where the label either begins to make money, or at least can break even monthly. It will take some time, but the foundation is strong.

 

 

What does the label charge for CDs and LPs, and can it be modified?

 

The retail cost for CDs and LPs is fixed by the label, and dependent on the price set by the manufacturer. This pricing can change, depending on raised or lowered manufacturing costs, so the following prices are subject to change. CD pressings of full-length albums are typically listed at $10 apiece, as the manufacturing cost is $2 per unit. CD pressings of half-length albums, or EPs, are typically listed at $6 apiece, as the manufacturing cost is $2 per unit. LPs are typically listed at $40 apiece, as the manufacturing cost is $33 per unit. It's important to note that some products may temporarily be unavailable or significantly marked up, based on the manufacturing cost. For example, in December 2022, Kunaki raised the manufacturing cost of LPs to $50 apiece, and had the label been active at that time, the decision would have been made to suspend vinyl sales until the manufacturing cost was reset at a more reasonable price.

 

 

Is there a cost to apply for affiliation, or to maintain affiliation?

 

Absolutely not. Artists who affiliate with MorningStar Records don't pay to do so. The only money the label makes is a small commission from each retail sale.

 

 

Does MorningStar Records offer an option to place artists on streaming platforms?

 

Unfortunately, that's not something we currently offer. The main reason for this is twofold; it would triple our monthly overhead costs, and it would make the process of un-affiliating much more difficult. By simply offering a spot on the website, links to listen, and including artists' CDs and LPs on our website, we're able to keep our overhead costs low, and quickly remove an artist's work from our offerings should they choose to un-affiliate.

 

 

Does MorningStar Records offer an option for digital downloads?

 

Unfortunately, that's something we're not currently able to offer, but we're actively looking for a way to make that a possibility. In the meantime, we strongly encourage our artists to create and maintain a site like Bandcamp, where they can offer digital downloads of their album on their own, and keep all profits from that method of sale, as MorningStar Records has no involvement. The label will only be entitled to 20% of the profit margin from a retail sale on the MorningStar Records webstore.

 

 

Does MorningStar Records offer an option to release cassette tapes?

 

Unfortunately, as Kunaki doesn't offer cassette tapes and we've been unable to find a proper tape-on-demand service, we can't currently offer cassette tape releases. This may change in the future if such a service can be found.

 

 

What are artists required to do once approved for affiliation?

 

Artists will be required to send their music in WAV files to the label, so that they can be mastered for the medium of choice (CD and/or LP). In addition, one promotional photo (ideally in square dimensions) will be requested, along with a two-paragraph biography, which will be needed to populate the individual artist page on the website. Once this is submitted, album artwork will be requested for the medium of choice, and if assistance is needed at this stage, the label will assist the artist. The final design will be compiled by the label, and proofs will be sent to the artist for approval prior to retail launch.

 

 

Do artists need to do any promotional work once they affiliate and their album is listed?

 

Artists are strongly encouraged to promote their music on an ongoing basis, and the work doesn't stop once the album is listed for sale on the MorningStar Records webstore. In fact, it's really only just begun. Consistent content creation which directs fans toward the site store is highly recommended, or the album may not sell at all. As artists only receive payment from album sales, it's in every party's best interest that the music continue to be promoted by the artists themselves.

 

 

How are artists paid, and how often?

 

Artists are typically paid once an order for one of their albums has been processed. Once an album has been purchased from the MorningStar Records webstore, the order then needs to be processed by the label, the manufacturing request needs to be placed with Kunaki (all of which is handled by the label within 48 hours of a retail order being placed, unless otherwise denoted), and then the remaining money is paid out to the artist minus 20% and associated transfer fees, which are held back for overhead. An example is listed below:

A retail CD order is placed, which costs $10 plus $7 for shipping. The customer pays the label $17. The label then places the manufacturing request with Kunaki, who charges $2 to manufacture the CD, and $7 for shipping. Of the original $17, $8 now remains with the label. The label retains 20% of this remaining money to cover overhead costs- in this case, $1.60- which leaves $6.40 remaining. If the cost to transfer this money to the artist is $1, for example, then the artist receives a transfer in the amount of $5.40. The customer receives their CD in the mail, the artist receives their royalty payment from the CD sale, and the label retains a small commission to offset its overhead costs.

 

 

Why does the label handle all transactions in USD?

 

As retail prices have been determined as a function of their cost to manufacture, and Kunaki is based in the United States, all retail prices and transactions are handled in US currency. If you're a Canadian artist, however, you'll receive the Canadian equivalent of your US-calculated earnings, at the current exchange rate.

 

 

How does the label share artist and business updates with the public?

 

MorningStar Records typically uses blog posts in order to share important artist and business updates with the public. These blog posts are created and hosted directly on the site, and displayed in order from most to least recent. These are shown on the site's home page, as well as the News tab. Artists are encouraged to share all updates with the label, as well as promotional photos, so the label can occasionally publish update articles. These update articles are shared on the label's Instagram.

 

 

Can affiliated artists order CDs and LPs in bulk, and if so, how?

 

Affiliated artists are able to order bulk shipments of CDs, and even LPs (though there are no bulk discounts for such orders, unfortunately). This is encouraged, as artists will be able to sell their physical units directly to fans at live events and keep all sale money. As MorningStar Records isn't involved in the sales process of these albums, the label isn't entitled to any sale money. However, a $5.00 surcharge to all bulk orders will be levied by the label at the time of order placement, to compensate for the time taken to place the order. An example is listed below:

A bulk order for 100 CDs is placed, which costs $165 plus $132 for shipping. The order totals $297, plus a $5 label surcharge to place the order. As a result, the artist pays the label $302, and the label places the order with Kunaki. A few weeks later, the artist receives their bulk CD shipment in the mail.

 

 

Can affiliated artists choose to un-affiliate, and if so, how?

 

Affiliated artists absolutely can choose to un-affiliate, and it's as easy as informing the label of a desire to do so. This process can take up to a week, as the artist profiles, streaming links, and store placements are all removed. Any money from album sales accrued during this time will be paid out to the artist on the standard 80/20 payment schedule, as outlined above. The process of un-affiliating is a relatively simple one, as the label never owns rights to the artist's music, and therefore, no legal proceedings are necessary. It's simply a matter of removing the artist from the website and wishing them well on their journey.

 

 

Can MorningStar Records choose to un-affiliate an artist, and if so, how?

 

MorningStar Records reserves the right to un-affiliate any artist. Factors leading to a decision to un-affiliate may include lack of album sales, gross misconduct, criminal activity, or a lack of alignment with the vision for the label as a whole. All un-affiliation decisions will result in 24 hours' notice being provided to the affected artist prior to removal from the site and associated webstore, except for instances of criminal activity or gross misconduct, as determined by the label. Any money from album sales accrued during the 24-hour notice period will be paid out to the artist on the standard 80/20 payment schedule, as outlined above.

 


Album Artwork Specifications

 

CD units are delivered to customers in shrink-wrapped commercial standard jewel cases. Artwork needed to manufacture a CD unit includes a front cover, an inlay image with a track list, an inside image, and a disc image. For artists who don't have these designed, assistance from the label is available upon request.

 

See below: a sample CD unit with image descriptions and suggested dimensions:

 

Front Cover

 Size              4.7" x 4.7"

Ratio                        1 : 1

Pixels     3000 x 3000

 

 

 

Inlay Image

Size              5.9" x 4.6"

Ratio                  1.28 : 1

Pixels     3850 x 3000

 

 

 

Inside Image

Size              4.7" x 4.7"

Ratio                        1 : 1

Pixels     3000 x 3000

 

 

 

Disc Image

Size              4.7" x 4.7"

Ratio                        1 : 1

Pixels     3000 x 3000

 

 

 

LP units are delivered to customers in a full-color 300gsm jacket with a protective plastic sleeve, and the LPs themselves are stereo, 2 mm thick, 130 gram standard lathe cuts. Artwork needed to manufacture an LP unit includes only a front cover, and a back cover. Vinyl label stickers are standardized, color-matched to the prevailing color of the album artwork, and fully designed and submitted by the label.

See below: a sample LP unit with image descriptions and suggested dimensions:

 

Front Cover

Size                 12" x 12"

Ratio                        1 : 1

Pixels     5000 x 5000

 

 

 

Back Cover

Size                 12" x 12"

Ratio                        1 : 1

Pixels     5000 x 5000

 

 

 


It's Time To Reach Out

 

If you've made it through this entire page, you should have a pretty good idea of what MorningStar Records does, how we do it, and what our vision is. Now comes the fun part- we'd love to hear from you! Are you interested in affiliating, or simply asking how to create your own physical retail products? Drop us a line, and we'll get back to you as soon as the time allows. We can't wait to discuss all of this and more with you!